Sumas Mountain by Bellingham via Paradise Valley / 蘇馬斯山

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Sumas Mountain near Bellingham sits just miles south of the border by the City of Sumas. Under an hour’s drive east also gives access to many peaks in the North Cascades. Paradise Valley offers one of the several route options to the top.

Sumas Mountain's summit tower
Sumas Mountain’s summit tower

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Sumas Mountain at a Glance

Access: Paradise Valley Road
Round Trip: 8.6 miles
Elevation Range: 1380′-3430′
Gear: none
Route Info: George Burgess
GPS track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Gold Mine Trail

While researching Sumas Mountain, I came upon an intriguing history of the Gold Mine Trail. Author Michael G. Impero even devoted his book to the subject matter. Who knew that the mines could’ve been a hoax?

I drove up to the trail with the “no trespassing” sign by the fence. So I decided that it wasn’t worth risking getting myself into trouble. Then a quick look at the maps, I found other access points east of the mountain.

Meet us at the crossroads
Meet us at the crossroads

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Paradise Valley Road

Soon, I drove another 15 minutes to the top of Paradise Valley Road. But I remembered seeing another road at the lower fork and thought it would get us closer to the mountain. So we went back to the junction.

A group of OHVs (Off-Highway Vehicles) had come in after us. A guy I talked to said that the east route would go but was not suitable for compact cars. So I drove back up to 1400′ and started hiking there.

One of the several OHVs
One of the several OHVs

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Sumas Mountain Northeast Route

The same group of OHVs passed us minutes later. Later I learned that the mountain had over 50 miles of OHV loop trails! It was neat to see how well they maneuvered through the big dips in the road.

Judging by the sounds, they were down by Saar Creek. Then a couple more forks later, we hiked up a side trail that ended at 1900′. From there, we scrambled west up to the roadway (P-1070-Spur 2) at 2600′. En route, we had views to the east.

Hillside view of Mount Baker
Hillside view of Mount Baker

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The Final Stretch

While walking to Road P-1070, we met a couple and their pup on the open road. Then we went through a few more dips to the end and entered the forest. There we continued on a defined path and crossed Lost Lake Trail shortly.

After scrambling over the wetland, we found an old road (P-1010) at 3100′ where snow showed up shortly. We went onto a gravel path and turned north by the radio tower before going back into the trees.

The final stretch
The final stretch

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Sumas Mountain Summit

It took us a while to go through the annoying thickets. Ironically, Sumas Mountain’s high point wasn’t the radio tower. Instead, the actual summit was hiding amid the dense vegetation.

The summit didn’t give us views. But soon, we heard bikers riding up on the other side of the woods and hanging out by a viewpoint. But to keep our social distance, we left the top shortly.

Other side of the border
Other side of the border

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Outro

I wanted to check out Lost Lake Trail. So we dove back into the trees by the snow line. But I didn’t foresee the massive down trees right before the trail. Since we were so close, we slowly zigzagged through the debris.

The trail took us down to an unnamed lake. Then we joined our route east of the water back to the roadway. The same folks we saw earlier were hanging out by the road’s end. A quick chat, and then we went on our merry way.

Western panoramic view below Sumas Mountain
Western panoramic view below Sumas Mountain

See more trip photos here.

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